Fianna Fáil TD for Offaly Barry Cowen has said the request for assistance for the midlands from the EU is not new and something which the Government has already committed to.

Deputy Cowen said the Government’s form for repackaging announcements they have already made is not fooling anyone and that unless they step up their response to the accelerated decarbonisation in the midlands, the region will be destroyed.

He said, “When the closure of the Shannonbridge and Lanesboro plants was announced, Minister Bruton arrived shortly after, flanked by Ministers Donohoe, Madigan and Boxer Moran – it was a spectacle. They told the people they were ‘here to try and develop an alternative future’.

“He talked at length about diverting affected staff to bog rehabilitation projects, completely missing the point that that can only cater for 250 of the 400 job losses in Bord na Móna and that 400 jobs had already been lost as a result of the previously announced acceleration of decarbonisation.

“This latest ‘announcement’ is nothing more than a cynical ploy to repackage and reannounce what they said at the time in an effort to dupe the public – they’re not falling for it.

“The notion they are putting forward that they are fighting and arguing at EU level for the diverting of the PSO levy is nonsense. Of all requests to the EU Commission this is one which is most likely to be approved. It’s a green initiative, it doesn’t contravene competition laws and has good potential for the future. Smoke and mirrors come to mind.

“The midlands is where it is solely because of Government inaction. There was a timeline in place, signed-off by the Government. The transition was to be gradual and would provide space for viable alternatives to be established. The Government stood by as that timeline went out the window and now an emergency style response is needed, not the reannouncement of old news,” he concluded.